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So, Uh, What's Up With The Steam Awards?

The results of 2023’s Steam Awards are in. Each year, Steam turns to the community to vote on the year’s best games across a wide variety of categories. This year saw Larian Studios’ RPG Baldur’s Gate 3 grab game of the year, while Lethal Company, a first-person cooperative horror game, got the “Better With Friends Award” for its co-op gameplay. The Last of Us Part I snagged Best Soundtrack, which seems odd because it came out in 2013, but it technically wasn’t added to Steam until 2023.

The Top 10 Most-Played Games On Steam Deck: August 2023 Edition

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Then there were some stranger choices. Bethesda’s much-hyped and mostly fine RPG Starfield won Most Innovative Gameplay? And perhaps even more confusingly, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption II won the “Labor of Love Award,” a title reserved for games that continue to receive updates and support years after release. Rockstar announced in 2022 that Red Dead Online wouldn’t receive any future updates.

Read More: Red Dead Online Won’t Get Big Updates As Rockstar Shifts to GTA 6

The Steam Awards are voted on by the Steam community, not in a secretive, smoke-filled room of mysterious judges. No, the awards are chosen by your average gamer—many of which were equally ready to send Starfield into Mostly Negative review status as of December 25, 2023.

I had more than enough criticism of Starfield last year, and to be honest, my opinion of it has probably only soured with time. But while there’s fun and value to be had romping around Bethesda’s 1,000-planet-rich galaxy, one can hardly say it’s innovative. At best it’s a fragmented Bethesda RPG joint of the kind we’ve been playing since 2011. And games like No Man’s Sky or Elite Dangerous have certainly done more with the concept of space travel, right? Can someone please explain to me how Starfield is innovative? Aside from its clever use of new game plus, which plays with the idea of infinite universes, I’m hard-pressed to find the innovation here—especially when it is so abysmal on the accessibility front.

And what about Red Dead Redemption II winning an award for the game with the most continued support this year? Over games like Deep Rock Galactic? The online mode hasn’t received an update in literally years. Cyberpunk 2077 snagged that award last year, but is there some reason it couldn’t have grabbed it twice in a row? Cyberpunk 2077 is hardly the same game it was in 2022 following a substantial 2.0 update and satisfying expansion with Phantom Liberty. Or what about No Man’s Sky? It’s the game we all reference when we talk about comeback stories, yet it’s never won Steam’s Labor of Love. Grand Theft Auto V grabbed both 2018 and 2019’s Labor of Love Award.

Things get even weirder when you look at the Steam Awards’ selection of finalists in each category. EA Sports FC 24, a soccer game currently sitting at “Mixed” review status, was in the running for Game of the Year and Best Game You Suck At. A sports game is certainly an odd pick for a year otherwise jam-packed with mega releases. And though Baldur’s Gate 3 took home Outstanding Story Rich Game, it was competing with a game called Love Is All Around? Never heard of it? Don’t worry. We didn’t either, until we looked it up. Love Is All Around is a full-motion-video dating sim game inspired by the devs who “want to date every day but will never step out of the house [into] the real world. Check out the Steam page for the game here. Don’t worry, it’s mostly SFW.

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